Findings of a recent study looking at the influence of community-level geographic features on human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination rates among teen girls may be helpful for developing strategies to increase vaccine uptake.
Published online January 14, 2016, in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, the research examined associations between geographic factors and HPV vaccine initiation rates in a nationally representative sample of females aged 13 to 17 years using data from the CDC National Immunization Survey-Teen. Results of logistic regression analyses controlling for individual factors showed vaccine initiation rates were highest in the poorest communities (61% in high-poverty communities vs 52.4% in low-poverty communities) and among Hispanics living in communities where the racial and ethnic composition was predominantly Hispanic (69.0%) or mixed race (60.4%) compared with majority non-Hispanic white communities (49.9%). Regardless of the girls’ own race/ethnicity, however, those living in predominantly non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black communities had the lowest initiation rates.
“The HPV vaccine is an effective cancer prevention vaccine that is severely underutilized in the United States. Our study identifies groups with the lowest uptake that may be targeted for vaccine promotion,” said Kevin Henry, PhD, lead author and Assistant Professor of Geography at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and member of Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control program. “While we need to explore strategies to improve public health messaging for sociodemographic groups that are least likely to be vaccinated, perhaps we can draw from some of the successful community outreach programs that are in place in predominantly Hispanic communities.”
Although a number of previous studies examined individual factors associated with HPV vaccination uptake, Dr Henry noted that this investigation is the first to consider a role for neighborhood or community factors, such as the racial/ethnic composition and poverty levels.
“We know where one lives matters for many health events, outcomes, and services, and from this study, we know that geography matters for HPV vaccine initiation independent of individual-level variables or factors."